After hearing about the news of three missing Cleveland women being found alive it inevitably got me thinking about the state’s role in this.
Naturally, as a market anarchist my initial thoughts were along the line that private detectives would have done a better job, and that police waste countless resources going after victimless criminals instead of real criminals. But that’s not really outside of the box thinking, at least not for somebody well steeped in libertarian philosophy. No, it wasn’t until I started thinking about children’s rights that I discovered a nuance in the statist reaction towards missing children.
Kidnapped children are a subset of missing children. Runaway children are also a subset of missing children. When children go missing the state is presented with a challenge that I believe would be greatly mitigated in a stateless, or market anarchist, society. The challenge is in searching for a number of missing children that is considerably larger under statism than under voluntaryism. Why is this?
Ultimately, whether the detectives are employed by a state or the market all missing children are desired to be found. However, under a regime where children’s rights are respected, the number of runaway children would be nearly non-existent, thus reducing the overall number of missing children desired to be found.
Many children, particularly ages thirteen to seventeen, run away from home. And they do this of their own free will. Sometimes they do it because their home life is so terrible. Sometimes they do it for love. The reasons are countless. But most often when a child runs away from home they know they must do so secretively, without being caught. If they are caught one of two things will happen. They will either be returned to their parents or they will become wards of the state, being sent to foster care or possibly an institution.
Under a stateless paradigm, however, children who wished to homestead themselves and leave their parents or guardians would never be compelled by force to return. To do so would be understood as kidnapping. With this protection in mind, children would not have to keep their presence or location a secret. This would necessarily reduce the number of missing children to those that are kidnapped or legitimately lost, say, in the city or wilderness. Thus, whoever is in charge of search and rescue would have a greatly diminished number of children to find and the confidence that those children actually want to be found.